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Clark Hope Einstein Giving Pitts All the Right Signals; Brownie Points Could Be A Millionaire After Career Finale in Falls City
EINSTEIN GIVES ALL THE RIGHT CLARK ANSWERS TO PITT- The question trainer Helen Pitts was asking her stable star Einstein this month was whether the 6-year-old would be up for a run in Friday's $400,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (Grade II).[asset|height=12|width=1]
With a bullet five-eighths work Sunday, the answer was a definitive "yes."
"He worked super Sunday and I thought that was good enough to get us there," Pitts said of Einstein, who has not raced since a troubled fifth-place finish in the Grade I Arlington Million on the grass at Arlington Park on Aug. 9. "He had done enough while he was off and he had a good bottom to him."
Einstein, who will break from post position three in the Clark under meet-leading jockey Julien Leparoux, did not have his first work after his Million run until Nov. 2.
"I didn't want to say yes (to the Clark) and get my hopes up," Pitts said. "He had an easy half, a good half, then an easy five-eighths and a good five-eighths. He couldn't have lost a whole lot."
Einstein has done his best work on the turf, where he has recorded Grade I victories this year with scores in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap and the Derby Day Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs. The son of 1985 Kentucky Derby (GI) winner Spend A Buck was runner-up to 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin in Churchill Downs' Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) in his most recent run on the main track.
"There was no pressure to run here and it is going to be awhile before he runs again," Pitts said. "He's got some good works in him, he's doing good and we're going to take a shot. I am comfortable with him. I know he will give his 110 percent like he always does."
BROWNIE POINTS LOOKS TO RETIRE AS A MILLIONAIRE - The cash machine in trainer Donnie Von Hemel's barn will be shutting down Thursday after embarking on one last search for a major deposit.
Pin Oak Stable's Brownie Points will make her swan song in this afternoon's $150,000-added Falls City Handicap (GII). A victory in the 94th renewal in that 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares would swell her career earnings past the $1 million mark.
"These kind of horses are hard to find," Von Hemel said. "You like to have one or two of those in the barn to keep things going."
Through four years of racing, Brownie Points has compiled a record of 9-8-4 in 26 races with earnings of $946,442 - with almost equal success on dirt and turf.
"I was just glad that she ran on either one," Von Hemel said. "We picked our spots with her and there was never a soundness issue."
Brownie Points ran the worst race of her career in her debut on dirt, finishing 10th in a field of 12 in a five-furlong sprint at Remington Park.
"We knew she was talented, and a lot of them train well and then when they run they don't do much," Von Hemel said. "We were disappointed in her first race, but the next time she ran on the dirt she ran second at 70-1."
The Falls City will mark the second trip to Churchill Downs for Brownie Points in 2008. She was a fast-closing second in the Grade III Locust Grove on the turf in July. Luis Quinonez rode here that day and will be aboard again on Thanksgiving Day.
"Luis has been important to her success," Von Hemel said. "He has stayed with her for three years."
WIGGINS LOOKING FOR EARLY BIRTHDAY TREAT ON SATURDAY - Trainer Hal Wiggins will turn 66 on Sunday, but he would not mind picking up a present or two a day earlier on the "Stars of Tomorrow II" card at Churchill Downs.
Wiggins will saddle Dolphus Morrison's homebred Rachel Alexandra in the $150,000-added Golden Rod (GII) at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track. He will also run Morrison's Abbott Hall in the $56,000 Caressing at a mile on the turf.
Rachel Alexandra enters the Golden Rod off a runner-up finish to Sara Louise in the Pocahontas (GIII) on Nov. 1. It was her second race back after a 3 ½-month layoff that followed a promising runner-up finish to Garden District in Grade III Debutante.
"She had a chip removed from her left front ankle," Wiggins said of the layoff. "We were hoping she would come back around and she ran good at Keeneland going short. She came out of that race fine and also the Pocahontas."
Abbott Hall returns to the turf after a fifth-place finish in the Pocahontas.
"That was just to see how she would handle it," Wiggins said. "She ran on it well in her first start at Ellis finishing second and she didn't run that well in her previous start at Keeneland (fourth in the Jessamine)."
Saturday will bring down the curtain on 2008 for both fillies.
"Rachel Alexandra will go to Hot Springs and they have that little series at Oaklawn with the Honeybee and the Fantasy," Wiggins said. "I'd like to run her twice before hopefully the Kentucky Oaks. They also have the Silverbulletday and the Fair Grounds Oaks in New Orleans, so we have a lot of options and she ran good on the Polytrack at Keeneland, so we could look at the Ashland."
Abbott Hall could get see a later start for her 3-year-old campaign.
"She may get a break. Rachel Alexandra's already had her break," Wiggins said. "There is not much for her out there now."
Whatever the decision for Morrison's talent fillies, Wiggins will make the call.
"I have trained horses for him for 27 years," Wiggins said. "The last thing he tells me when we talk is ‘you're the coach.' "
BARN TALK - Julien Leparoux added one victory Wednesday to elevate his meet-leading total to 51. With three days remaining in the meet, Leparoux has Pat Day's 23-year-old fall record of 55 squarely in his sights. Leparoux is named on 11 mounts each Thursday and Friday and on nine on Saturday. ... Robby Albarado had his third four-win day of the meet on Wednesday to raise his meet total to 37. Albarado also won four races on Nov. 14 and Nov. 19. ... "Happy Birthday" wishes to trainer Greg Foley, who turns 51 today. The second generation trainer - the son of veteran trainer Dravo Foley and brother to fellow trainer Vickie Foley - has four horses entered on the Thanksgiving Day card at Churchill Downs.